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Colorado judge rules sheriffs cannot hold prisoners for ICE

Posted at 2:28 PM, Dec 07, 2018

DENVER – A Colorado district court judge ruled Thursday night that Colorado sheriffs cannot hold prisoners for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a move that impacts El Paso County and might affect a pending case in Teller County.

Judge Eric Bentley ruled that sheriffs in the state of Colorado do not have authority to enforce federal immigration law by holding people at the request of ICE.

In a statement to News5, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office says Sheriff Bill Elder plans to appeal the decision. Additionally, no ICE detainees have been in custody at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center since an injunction was filed in March 2018, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder

As News 5 has reported, the ACLU filed lawsuits against both the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Teller County Sheriff’s Office for holding inmates for ICE.

The ACLU sued the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in February 2018 when the plaintiffs in the case, Saul Cisneros and Rut Chavez, were held in jail since November 2017 despite attempts by family members to pay their bail. The ACLU charged that the sheriff’s office was violating their rights by holding them without a warrant.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement shortly after the lawsuit was filed, in which it said that it would not comment on pending litigation, but the statement maintained that Elder was not breaking the law.

“The priority of this agency is ensuring the safety of the community by keeping criminals off the streets, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.”-El Paso Co Sheriff’s Office

In March, Judge Bentley also issued a preliminary injunction that ordered Elder to stop holding prisoners for ICE, and Thursday’s decision reaffirms the previous decision.

The ACLU also sued Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell in July over a similar case. The Teller County Sheriff’s Office held Leonardo Canseco after he was charged with two misdemeanors on allegations he stole $8.25 from a slot machine and for criminal possession of a federal ID card.

He was being held on an $800 bond, and could have been detained had he posted bond, which was what prompted the lawsuit.

However, a different judge, Linda Billings-Vela, rejected a request for a preliminary injunction in the Teller County case in August.

Following that decision, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement that read in part,

“We won the right to continue to protect our citizens. The district court judge ruled in our favor to continue cooperating with our Federal partners in this important law enforcement area.” – Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell

However, the ACLU said the lawsuit against the Teller County Sheriff’s Office is still pending.

CLICK HERE  to read the full ruling from Thursday.